Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — Marshall Circuit Judge Dennis Foust said Tiffany Pittman showed horrific judgement when she used the pretense of a therapy session outside of jail to get pregnant.
Jailer Roger Ford said Pittman gave him a written statement admitting she used the session to meet her boyfriend for a sexual liaison and she did not conceive the child in jail with another inmate or a jail employee. According to Pittman’s statement, the child was conceived in mid-November, Ford added.
Foust said his order to allow an inmate to seek medical or psychiatric treatment while awaiting trial is fairly common. He said he allowed Pittman’s mother, Misti Flint, to collect her daughter from the Marshall County Detention Center and take her to mental health counseling at Four Rivers Behavioral Health in Paducah. Pittman, 20, Paducah, was awaiting trail for the manslaughter of Jimmy Harper, 46, in August 2011. She was ultimately convicted of manslaughter, wanton endangerment and DUI by a Marshall County jury in December.
By violating the order to go directly to and from the therapy session, with stops only for meals, Foust said both Pittman and Flint could face contempt of court sanctions. If given the maximum penalty, both could see six months in jail. Foust sentenced Pittman to the maximum penalty of 10 years for manslaughter and five years for wanton endangerment last month. Her sentences will be served consecutively, though she will be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of her sentence.
“How this was allowed to happen is the question I will seek an answer to,” Foust said. “I don’t know what happened, but if everything happened as was said, it’s clear my order was violated.”
Foust said he briefly repealed his order allowing Pittman’s sessions when he learned her boyfriend was returning her to jail, but did not recall any specific details. Pittman’s boyfriend will not face charges of contempt of court, as only Flint and Pittman were named in the order allowing therapy sessions.
Ford said he has requested an expedited transfer to state prison after learning of Pittman’s condition. For now, she has not received any additional medical care other than a larger dietary allowance and additional dairy foods. If she requires any health care, it will be met under the Marshall County Detention Center’s contract with a health care provider until she is transferred. He did not know to what facility she would be transferred.
“We’ve seen prisoners transferred within two weeks, and we’ve seen them stay with us for up to one year,” Ford said.
As she has been formally sentenced, Pittman is now a state inmate. Ford said his jail receives a per diem amount for housing Pittman and the state would be responsible for her health care needs.
“This isn’t the first pregnant inmate we’ve had, and she won’t be our last,” Ford said. “To be honest, I haven’t calculated just how much a pregnancy costs, but without complications, it’s not too bad. It would be covered in our medical care contract.”
Foust said his plan to provide Pittman with mental health care failed, but he was not angry and did not take the violation personally.
“I find it irritating to be honest, but we need to hear from everyone what has happened,” Foust said. “I’m starting my 20th year on the bench, and this is certainly not the first violation of a court order I’ve seen, nor will it be the last.”
Foust said the court did not follow up with Four Rivers Behavioral Health that Pittman satisfied requirements for counseling on every visit, but had no indication she missed appointments.
While egregious, Foust said he considered violations of domestic violence orders to be far more egregious when lives of victims are endangered. He added if Pittman was able to bond out of jail awaiting trial, the court could not have placed restrictions on reproduction.
“We’ll address the situation with Miss Pittman and her mother in the next two to three days, and consult with the commonwealth attorney on how they would like to proceed,” Foust said.